Judge denies Dunham’s counter-suit action
By Jane Beathard
A visiting judge has denied an action by London resident Susan Dunham to include Steve Saltsman Jr. in her counter-suit against Madison County Commissioner Paul Gross.
In a recent decision filed in the local common pleas court, Judge James Brogan over-ruled Dunham’s motion for a third-party claim against Saltsman.
However, Brogan said Dunham was free to file a separate lawsuit against Saltsman.
Dunham’s attorney, John Xavier Perez, filed the claim in November, seeking to shift financial liability to Saltsman.
He argued Saltsman invaded Dunham’s privacy by falsely posing as his father, the former sheriff and chairman of the county Republican party, to gain access to her Facebook circle of “friends.” Saltsman then printed postings by Dunham and the “Does” during last spring’s primary campaign and turned them over to Gross. Based on those comments, Gross sued Dunham and 12 “John Does” for libel and defamation.
Dunham counter-sued, claiming Gross violated her free speech rights during a “Meet The Candidates Night” sponsored by The Madison Press in February.
Brogan’s Dec. 17 ruling said Dunham was not responsible for re-publication of her messages and that Saltsman was not liable — even if he acted as a “mole” for Gross. He also cautioned that Dunham was not free to defame Gross with postings to her “real” Facebook friends.
However, the judge said Dunham could add an invasion of privacy claim to her original counter-suit against Gross, based on his acquisition of her Facebook material.
In other filings related to the battling lawsuits, Perez objected to subpoenas by Gross’ attorney, Rick Brunner, for Dunham’s “enhanced” Facebook archive.
Brunner believes Dunham is withholding information.
Perez said his client fulfilled all requests by Brunner and that a continuing stream of subpoenas constitute harassment.
He also said Gross and Brunner do not understand Facebook policies and how the social network is used.